How to Dispute Paternity in California

Jun 2, 2021 Paternity

Paternity disputes are more common than you think in California, particularly when the offspring in question is alleged to belong to a famous celebrity or athlete. Men often dispute that paternity is valid when they have reason to believe they are not the biological father of a child. If you’re experiencing this type of dispute with someone, we recommend you contact an Irvine paternity lawyer to figure out your options and a path forward.

Establishing, and later challenging, paternity in California is governed by a specific set of rules and steps. Below, we review what those rules are, and offer insights into how one would challenge paternity if you’re unsure whether you are truly the father.

How is Paternity Established in California? 

In California, married couples are automatically considered to be the parents of a child. However, unmarried couples who had a child would take the following steps to establish paternity. Paternity can be established up to three years after a child’s 18th birthday.

Sign a voluntary declaration of paternity: Both parents must sign a voluntary declaration of paternity in order for it to be established. In signing this document, you declare that you are the parent of the child and assume the rights and responsibilities therein. This form can be obtained at the hospital immediately following birth, at a local child support agency, at the birth registrar, or via a family law facilitator or welfare agency.

Obtain a court order of paternity: If voluntary declaration is not available, one can obtain a court order for paternity via an order for child support. Either parent can initiate the case to prove paternity, and will have to file a series of forms with the court in order to do so. Typically, an Irvine paternity lawyer will be involved. 

Challenging Paternity with an Irvine Paternity Lawyer

In 2004, the California legislature created a bill that would allow people to challenge both a voluntary and involuntary paternity judgment. There are specific instances in which someone may utilize this law in order to challenge paternity. Those include:

Voluntary paternity declarations may be challenged when a parent has later found out that someone else is in fact the biological father. There is a two-year statute of limitations beginning from the child’s date of birth in order to challenge paternity in this instance.

If a paternity ruling was declared on a default judgment, one can request that the ruling be set aside. Fathers have two years from the date the father should have known about the judgment to challenge paternity in this instance. 

Challenging paternity is complex and requires the care and experience of an experienced Irvine paternity lawyer. Contact our office today to learn more.